The phrase “dog enrichment” is the au currant term for adding brain games and socialization practices to your pet’s everyday life. In fact, there are 5 different types of enrichment to consider and incorporate into a dog’s life: 1) Social 2) Cognitive 3) Environmental 4) Sensory 5) Food. None of them have to be difficult or complicated. You may be surprised at what your pup finds fun, and how easy it is to add all kinds of enrichment into your everyday routine!
Recall with Challenges
We have practiced recall with Stella – a lot – that’s because she came to us after being rescued from North Carolina as a pup, then having been placed in a home that did not suit. She came to us challenged with a history of poor behaviour choices and a whole lot of unexpended drive and energy. Plus she is blessed with a fully equipped cerebellum. Some of the best enrichment games we can play with her involve lots of movement and lots of thinking. Recall with challenges is a great one.
Hide and seek inside the house or outside, stay then come, wait then get / bring / drop, recall and over / under / around are all terrific for dogs like Stella the Min Pin.
Solo Fetch On A Staircase
Show your dog he can make his own game using gravity! It only took one go before Duke the German Shepherd Dog pup was rolling the ball down the stairs in his own game of solo fetch and retrieve.
Every dog should have an opportunity to de-stress with a good chewie. It becomes enrichment in tandem! That’s because chewing with a buddy involves both dogs choices: not to grab the other dog’s treat; stay focused on their own prize; and learn to practice calm behaviour in the company of other pups.
Banish the Bowl, Ditch the Dish
A super easy way to add joy to any dog’s mealtime lies in banishing the bowl, That’s right, simply ditch the dish. Dogs are creatures who are born to hunt for their meals. I often mention to students in my training classes that back in the day, rabbits did not throw themselves on a dinner plate for the average canine to enjoy at their leisure. No, the rabbits needed to be got, and a dog primal pleasure spot is likewise tickled when they have a chance to exercise species specific behaviour.
Meals can be served stuffed in a Kong or similar such “interactive” toys. In fact, any toy with a hole or groove can potentially serve as a dinner plate. We feed raw, so that often means stuffed and frozen.
If you feed kibble, you have even more options. Not only can you use treat dispensing toys, you can use slow-feeders (add a bit of water so those kibbles are even trickier to catch!). You can fold up kibbles in an old towel or t-shirt. Hide bits in a piece of shag-like rug, now sold as fancy pants snuffle mats.
Susan Garrett, Professional Dog Trainer
In the midst of studying for the dog training certification, I am listening to, watching and reading a lot of professional trainer advice. Susan Garrett is one of my go-to gals. She states that many, many behavioural problems can be mitigated by ensuring dogs have sufficient and appropriate exercise of the mind and body. Here is a link to her suggested list of 20 Easy Ways to Exercise Your Dog at Home, courtesy Spotify. She is well represented online in many forms, so feel free to explore more of her excellent advice.